Use these teaching resources to introduce students to the Underground Railroad, a covert network of former slaves, free black men and women, Northern abolitionists, and church leaders who helped fugitive slaves escape to freedom.
The educational, teacher-friendly book American History Mysteries focuses on two young detectives, Meg and Peter Mackintosh and their clever grandfather, Gramps. The crew has just been challenged to solve an assortment of history-related mysteries; as a result, they are all set to drive around the United States learning about their past. Get ready to play detective with your students as you help solve the following mystery.
Taking a Risk
As Peter and Meg found out, Harriet Tubman made nineteen trips along the Underground Railroad to lead enslaved African Americans to freedom in the north. Write the word altruism on the board, and discuss its meaning with students. What do they think motivated Harriet Tubman to risk her life for others? What might have motivated Quakers to shelter the people escaping from the south?
Passwords to Freedom
The Underground Railroad had “passengers,” “conductors,” and “stations.” Meg and Peter learn that the Quakers used the password “a friend with a friend.” Ask students to suppose that they were conductors on the Underground Railroad. Have them think of code words and passwords for different situations they might encounter, such as “danger” or “all clear.” Students can write their passwords and definitions in a code book.
Portrait of Harriet Tubman
Who was Harriet Tubman? What prompted her to help others? Tell students to research the life of Harriet Tubman. They can present their findings in the form of a short story, a play, a poem, or a song.